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Science News Archive - February 20, 2009

A Google Ocean picture that some said might show the location of the mythical city Atlantis off the coast of Africa was an image of sonar data, Google said. The image, first reported by a British aeronautical engineer using Google Ocean, appears to depict a grid system 620 miles off the coast of northwest Africa, near the Canary Islands, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday. However, a Google spokeswoman said the grid lines on the image, which the original British viewer described as resembling a man-made aerial map, were caused by thin bands of sonar data collected by boats while mapping the bottom of the ocean, The Daily Mail reported. It's true that many amazing discoveries have been made in Google Earth including a pristine forest in Mozambique that is home to previously unknown species and the remains of an Ancient Roman villa, the spokeswoman said.

The recession may be responsible for a slump of a different sort: an unexpected dive in shark attacks, says a University of Florida researcher. Shark attacks worldwide in 2008 dipped to their lowest level in five years, a sign that Americans may be forgoing vacation trips to the beach, said George Burgess, ichthyologist and director of the International Shark Attack File, which is housed at UF.

An article by Princeton Biologist Mark Laidre suggests that when an animal signals an intent to attack, chances are it's not bluffing. Using hermit crabs as subjects, Laidre tested previous mathematical models that predict animals have a significant incentive to give dishonest signals about their intentions.

An international group of scientists is renewing calls for policymakers to reduce both nitrogen and phosphorus when attempting to alleviate eutrophication – or nutrient pollution problems – in fresh and coastal waters. In the February 20 edition of Science, the researchers argue that dual-nutrient reduction strategies are likely to be more successful due to complex interactions between nitrogen and phosphorus in fresh and coastal water ecosystems.

People everywhere are feeling the stress of a worldwide recession. Our cells, too, are under continual assault from stress.

Physicists at Rutgers University have discovered unusual electronic properties in a material that has potential to improve solar cell efficiency and computer chip design.

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New research suggests that the English navy was evolving revolutionary new tactics right around the time of the Spanish Armada.

A new study on the installed costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the U.S. shows that the average cost of these systems declined significantly from 1998 to 2007, but remained relatively flat during the last two years of this period.

A nationwide study of first grade classrooms finds that while many teachers create positive social environments in the classroom, most provide inadequate instructional support. The report is published in the March issue of The Elementary School Journal.

British researchers say a hospital in Cambridge is having success with a treatment that may cure nut allergies. Four children with severe peanut allergies participated in a preliminary clinical trial at Addenbrooke's Hospital in which they were given small amounts of peanut flour every day for six months.

Word of the Day
toccata
  • In music, a work for a keyboard-instrument, like the pianoforte or organ, originally intended to utilize and display varieties of touch: but the term has been extended so as to include many irregular works, similar to the prelude, the fantasia, and the improvisation.
This word is Italian in origin, coming from the feminine past participle of 'toccare,' to touch.
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